Los Angeles interior designer Ernie Roth remembers a jaw-dropping moment when driving to a high-profile, award-winning screenwriter's home one morning. As he approached his client's home on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, he saw a pirate ship used in one of the Johnny Depp films anchored below. Roth's experience creating over 1,100 commercials and being the production designer on a feature film did not diminish his awe of the spectacle.
The client's passion for reading and steadfast attention to detail were translated into the interior design of the home, especially the writing lair.
Roth's challenges included making space for a massive amount of books, integrating strange intersections of materials, and creating more functional spaces with elegantly understated custom touches.
Roth created a cantilevered bookcase handcrafted from bubinga wood that wrapped a staircase leading to a bathroom. Within the bookshelves, he created an opening into a sunken bedroom with leather-wrapped walls and a ceiling fan made of bicycle spokes and parachute material.
"Eclectic and busy," was how Roth described his clients. He shopped with them for only three hours collectively during the two-year project.
Each piece selected for the project could easily stand alone and create a distinctive statement. A few of Roth's favorite selections included a bronze octopus tentacle lamp, a motorized lift for a television that came out of a Tibetan trunk with bone feet, and a shagreen wrap with a compass-inspired top. The compass was installed haphazardly to look imperfect and create character.
His client expressed a desire for the office to feel creative and be a pleasure to work in while minimizing the visual impact of technology, so Roth custom-designed a Frank Lloyd Wright-esque desk made of French white oak with ebony details to hide the computers. He also designed matching bookcases using the hull of a boat to hold the shelves together. The Roman shade window treatment was constructed from a Chinese Junk sail, thus adding to the nautical influences.
Roth searched online for a year to find an aquarium before he found the perfect one from the 1930s in a Long Island, NY antique shop that was only open on weekends. He had the aquarium shipped to California and rebuilt it to stand in a stone casing.
Other ocean-inspired details included blue marble countertops, a compass crafted of ebony inlaid on the stairs, and a nautical painting placed over the master bed.
Because his client was a writer, the most unique detail Roth suggested was a framed Romanoff's wax seal collection.